Bhil - Settlements

A Bhil village, whose boundaries are clearly marked by bundles of grass tied to trees along paths and roads, is composed of anywhere from three to forty families inhabiting houses set far apart from each other. A man's grown son may, on occasion, build his hut next to his father's, but generally a distance of 70 to 230 meters separates individual houses. Clusters of homes, usually made up of related families, are not, however, infrequent. The Bhil erect their houses on the tops of the hills with their fields surrounding them, thereby allowing them to maintain constant security over their crops. Where fields extend farther from the households, the Bhil build improvised field houses. The scattered pattern of household distribution results in Bhil villages occupying an area of about 3 to 4 square kilometers. Each village has land reserved for communal use, such as for cattle pasture, for roads, for a village cemetery, and for the community threshing floor. Most Bhils live in rectangular two-storied structures of timber frame with bamboo walls daubed with a plaster made of water, clay, and cattle dung, material valued for its cooling and insect-repelling properties. The windowless abode is provided with an entrance on the front wall that is usually the only opening into the building, although a rear entry for the exclusive use of the resident family may at times be built in. The roof is generally thatched with grass or teak leaves and bamboo, material that often requires annual replacement. Built 0.5 to 1.0 meter above the ground on a plinth of earth and stone or timber, the structure is essentially a cattle shed and domicile, with regional variations on the division and utilization of space.

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